Elowah Falls

Elowah Falls is rated #51 of the top 100 waterfalls in the Northwest by waterfallsnorthwest.com. It is also the first hike we took on our family waterfall adventures. The hike to Elowah is fairly easy, and the beauty of the falls combined with the accessibility of the creek below make it a must-see. There is a “cave” below the waterfall that my husband and son had fun exploring.

 

My husband and son in the "cave" below Elowah Falls.
My husband and son in the “cave” below Elowah Falls.

Upper McCord Falls is above Elowah and is split into two segments. It’s quite pretty, but there is only one angle from which to view the falls, and the light was not in our favor to take pictures on our visit. Additional views of Elowah are offered along the trail.

SUMMARY

My rating: Must See / Favorite (4 stars)
(Elowah – 4 stars for Waterfall and Experience, 3 stars for Trail. Upper McCord – 2 stars for Waterfall and Experience, 3 stars for Trail.)

Distance from Beaverton: About an hour drive east

Nearest town: Cascade Locks

Nearest city: Portland

County: Multnomah

Length of round-trip hike: 1.3 (Elowah) or 2.8 (Elowah & Upper McCord)

Best season to visit: Any

Things to know:

  • Bring towels and plan to get wet!
  • Elowah and Upper McCord are accessed from John B. Yeon State Park.
  • Car break-ins have been reported from the park.  Be mindful of what you leave in your car.

Consider combining this trip with:  This is a good stand-alone trip, but it could be combined with any hike in the Gorge if you want.  The closest trip to the west is the Horsetail Falls Loop and the closest to the east is Wahclella.

Toilet / Amenities: I don’t remember, and I can’t find the info online.  If a reader visits, please let me know what’s available.

How to get there:

  • From Portland, drive I-84 east to Exit 35, marked Dodson.
  • Turn left at the stop sign, then immediately turn right onto the frontage road.
  • Drive east on the frontage road 2.1 miles and turn right into the trailhead parking lot. The lot will be just before the road re-enters the highway.
  • From the east, take Exit 37, signed Warrendale.
  • Head west on Warrendale Road for about 1/4 mile to a stop sign.
  • Turn left, go under the freeway and turn left again onto the frontage road.
  • Drive 1/4 mile east to the trailhead parking lot just before the road re-enters the highway.
  • Begin hiking on Gorge Trail 400.  Keep to the left to continue on the trail to Elowah Falls.
  • Return to the junction with Elowah Falls Trail and turn left.  Follow this trail to Upper McCord Falls.

Helpful websites:

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